the ire of mitt

Mitt Romney was angry. Very angry. His anger burned as hot as a thousand blazing suns. Well, okay, maybe a thousand cheap birthday candles. Well, maybe a couple dozen cheap birthday candles. But still, Mitt was ever so angry. You could tell he was angry because he frowned. Not the frown he gets when the époisses de bourgogne has been served before it reached room temperature, but still it was clearly a frown.

Why was Mitt so very angry? Because he felt President Uncle Joe had been mean to Republicans. Mitt said Biden had “accused a number of my good and principled colleagues in the Senate of having sinister, even racist inclinations.” (NOTE: there are “good and principled” Republicans?) He said Biden had “charged that voting against his bill allies us with Bull Connor, George Wallace and Jefferson Davis.” (NOTE: voting against even debating the voting rights bill allies the GOP with Bull Connor and George Wallace, but maybe not Jefferson Davis.)

“You call this ‘room temperature’?”

And then Mitt paused dramatically before delivering a crushing, devastating, soul-crushing blow to Uncle Joe. He said, “So much for unifying the country and working across the aisle.” (NOTE: the GOP has dug a moat between the aisles and filled it with meth-addicted Florida alligators.) And he said it with a sneer.

It seems unlikely the Biden administration will ever fully recover from the room temperature ire of Mitt Romney. There’s a reason Romney is known far and wide as ‘Mitt Vicious’. (NOTE: Romney isn’t known far and wide as anything, let alone ‘Mitt Vicious’. He IS known close and narrow as ‘Mittens the Peevish’.)

Pundits have declared the Biden administration–and Uncle Joe his ownself–a colossal failure based on his inability in his first year in office to get the GOP, whose political survival depends on their ability to shred voting rights, to support voting rights. It seems clear to the pundits that President Uncle Joe’s ONLY hope for a successful administration is to stop suggesting that the GOP’s racist policies are based on racism; he MUST begin to foster cooperation and compromise with the GOP by accepting the god-given right of the minority to rule.

And if Biden refuses, he’ll have to face the ire of Mitt, the Towering Pale Blancmange of the Senate.

more like jesus

A couple of days ago, passing by a church, I saw a sign (I wish I’d stopped and photographed it) that said something like: Try to be more like Jesus. My first thought was “Dude, it’s January; I’m NOT wearing sandals.” Which, I admit, is somewhat disrespectful.

For some reason that be-more-like-Jesus concept stuck in my mind. I can see some benefits from it.

  • Spend time talking to strangers
  • Tell stories
  • Spend time chilling with sinners
  • Drink wine (in moderation, of course)
  • Ride donkeys
  • Remind folks to be kind and gentle.
  • Hang out in boats
  • Piss off hypocrites
  • Bake bread and share it

I seem to recall a lot of paintings showing Jesus playing with kids, and I don’t think that would work out so well these days. Besides, kids are noisy. So I think we could safely skip all that. Also, I’m not sure where Jesus stood on napping; I suspect he was a fan, but that might just be wishful thinking.

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing–absolutely nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

I’m not a Christian, but you can’t deny that the guy had some good ideas. Too bad so few Christians follow them. Seriously, the worst thing about Christianity is Christians.

EDITORIAL NOTE: The quotation in the photo is from the Gospel of The Wind in the Willows.

voting rights — how fucked are we?

Yesterday I was…let’s call it challenged…for not being sufficiently outraged by the Republican assault on voting rights. A Facebook friend suggested I wasn’t taking the threat of voter suppression seriously enough, that I didn’t fully comprehend the severity of the issue, that I was naive. Why? Because I disagreed with this:

Will Joe have the cajones to install voting rights / election law changes even if it takes declaring Martial Law?

I’m not convinced that the willingness to invoke extraordinary military power to seize control of a civil election is a valid metric of my commitment to voting rights. I mean, the US military is brilliant at blowing shit up and killing people, and they’re really great at responding to humanitarian disasters. But martial law isn’t a remedy for our voting rights problems. It’s not the answer for any number of reasons, beginning with 1) the president doesn’t have any Constitutional power to substitute military authority for civilian control of the US election system, and moving through 2) the reality that no election could be considered valid if one candidate is the Commander-in-Chief of the military and the military is in charge of the election process, and ending with 3) an authoritarian act committed with good intentions by a POTUS I agree with is STILL an authoritarian act–and no authoritarian government in history has remained benevolent.

Martial law is just fucked up. I like Uncle Joe Biden, but he’s no Abe Lincoln. Look at what happened to Lincoln after he imposed martial law in some border states during the Civil War. Not only did SCOTUS spank him for violating the Constitution, but his military commanders became so accustomed to ruling without civilian interference that when Lincoln realized he’d made a mistake and tried to unwind martial law, his generals were reluctant–even actively resistant–to giving up their authority. It was so bad that Lincoln, a few months before he was assassinated, had to send General John Pope with another army to dismantle the martial law system.

Still, the fact remains that representative democracy in the US is in danger. It’s threatened by the Republican slide into authoritarianism and their concentrated assault on voting rights. It’s important to ask what’s being done to save democracy. What can be done about preserving our voting rights?

Ideally, the Senate would pass the pair of voting rights bills that have already passed in the House–the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The former is as dead as Dickens’ door-nail because of the Manchin and the Sinema issues (which are two totally different though equally fucked up issues). The latter, however, has support from Manchin (as well as at least one Republican–Lisa Murkowski), so it’s still a possibility.

The John Lewis bill basically restores the power to the Department of Justice that SCOTUS stripped away in the Shelby County v. Holder decision. It would require DOJ pre-clearance before states can change voting laws involving redistricting, voter ID requirements, changes to precinct locations, changes to early-voting access, or changes to how voter rolls are purged. It wouldn’t end gerrymandering, but it would seriously limit it. The John Lewis Act wouldn’t heal our wounds, but it would help stop the bleeding.

IF the John Lewis Act is passed, then it’s all up to Merrick Garland.

“Help us, Obi-wan, you’re our only hope.”

I fucking hate to trust government officials. Even the ones I like. I don’t entirely trust them because there’s always other shit going on. And let’s face it, every government official I’ve ever counted on has, in some way, let me down. And it’s always for the same reason (that ‘other shit going on’ I mentioned a moment ago). Merrick Garland, as the US Attorney General has SO MUCH other shit going on that you’d need an abacus the size of the St. Louis Gateway Arch to keep count of them. I mean, in addition to voting rights, he’s also got the matter of possibly prosecuting the former president to deal with. That’s a full plate, right there.

But in his speech last week, AG Garland said he was doubling the size of the staff of the Civil Rights Division “within the next thirty days.” They’re the folks who’d handle the voting rights cases. So that’s…promising? Even without John Lewis, a doubling of the staff suggests the DOJ is serious about voting rights.

So that, in my opinion, is where we are. Hovering in the null zone between Totally Fucked and Semi-Fucked. We will almost certainly remain Fucked In Some Fashion so long as the GOP continues to hold fast to authoritarianism and SCOTUS continues to be held hostage by unqualified conservative hacks. The degree to which we’re Fucked will depend a lot on the future of our voting rights.

goals

The first thing I saw on social media this morning was…no, wait, that’s not true. It wasn’t actually the first thing I saw, or even among the first 20-30 things I saw, but it was the first thing that caught me by surprise. The first thing that made me go “wait…what?” It was a question in a forum for readers. Two questions, really.

What are your reading goals and targets for the New Year? Do they include different genres?

That pretty much stopped me dead. People have reading goals and targets? What does that even mean? And what’s the difference between a reading goal and a reading target? What does genre have to do with it?

The responses to those questions helped clarify them, but some of them still left me confused. Here are a few sample responses. “I plan to read 100 books this year, with at least 5 hard scifi, 5 fantasy, 5 YA, and 5 historical fiction.” “I intend to read the entire Richard Bolitho British Navy novels by Alexander Kent.” “I’m going to reread the novels that were my favorites as a teen.” “This years book list challenge is set; I’ve already finished 2 books today that I started yesterday.” ” In 2021 I read 88 books; this year I want to get 100.”

I can understand folks wanting to read favorite childhood novels. That makes sense to me. I do that occasionally. Just a few weeks ago I re-read The Prisoner of Zenda. I can also understand wanting to read a certain series of books–or at least start to read them. But what if you discover you don’t enjoy them? Or what if you enjoy the first couple, but them find the rest repetitive? If you’ve publicly committed to reading the entire series, do you keep reading…or do you stop?

And yeah, I understand the value of reading a variety of genres, They all have something to offer. But I do NOT understand the intention to read X number of books in a given time frame. I don’t understand that at all. What’s the point? What’s the purpose? Why does the number of books you read matter? It makes no sense to me.

The cat naps; I read. Simple goal, simple plan.

I guess I’m just a disorganized, unstructured reader. I read a book, then when I’m done, I buy another book and read it. I DO have a Google Keep list of books called ‘Books I Might Want to Consider Reading‘ which, now I think of it, is a shamefully wishy-washy title for a list. It probably doesn’t really qualify as a list; it’s just notes on books folks have recommended or books I’ve heard about. Sometimes I’ll consult it before buying a new book, but I’m just as likely to rummage through the online bookstore and buy whatever strikes my fancy at that moment. I don’t have anything remotely like a plan for what I’m going to read next. It depends on…hell, I don’t even know what it depends on.

Every four or five years (or three years or six years) I decide to re-read one of Dorothy Dunnett’s historical novel series. Does that count as a plan? I’m still two novels away from finishing The Expanse series. Or maybe it’s three novels; I’m not sure how many novels are in the series. Eight? Nine? I’m sure I’ll buy and read those novels at some point–but I haven’t yet and I’m not sure when I will. Does that count as a plan? Maybe it’s a goal?

What is a plan, really? It’s just a roadmap pointing toward a goal. But if you don’t have a goal–and I don’t–then what use is a plan? Or maybe I DO have a goal. Just a very simple, easily attainable goal. To read another book when I’ve finished the one I’m reading now. My plan, then, would be to buy another book. Piece of cake.

#

I wrote this yesterday morning, then got distracted. I had a point to make, but I’ve forgotten what it was. I’m pretty sure it was clever, though.

Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in a comfortable chair reading, a blanket on my lap, and the cat on the blanket. When the sun came through the transom, the cat got off my lap and laid in the sun. Every so often I looked up from my tablet and saw that the sunny spot and the cat had moved. It occurred to me that my reading goals and plans were similar to the cat’s napping goals and plans. Her goal is to nap in a sunny spot. When that sunny spot moves, she moves with it. My goal is to finish one book and start another.

The cat is content with her goal and plan; I’m content with mine. But I rather doubt my plan and goal will impress the other members of that reader forum.